By Christina Stackle
This post is one of a series about supporting families in your congregation. Join us for Tell the Next Generation: A Family Ministry Conference on March 9, 2019.
Have you heard parents tell their children, “I love you right up to the moon and back?” This saying, from the children’s book Guess How Much I Love You, helps children understand the magnitude of their parents’ love.
I Will Love You to Heaven
As I read this book to my children I asked myself, “Do I love my children just to the moon or is it more than that?” Much more, I concluded. While I want them to know my earthly love for them, I desperately want them to know Jesus’s love, so one day they’ll see my love for them as we stand before the King of all Kings, Jesus Himself. So, in our house, we use the phrase “I will love you to heaven.”
This idea of loving my children to heaven has weighed on me over the years. As a DCE, I have seen many families fall apart and away from God. This is not my desire for my family or my children. So as a parent, what can I do to love my children to heaven, knowing full well that it is the Holy Spirit at work in my children’s and my life?
Here’s some of what we’ve done as a family:
- Help them know their true identity.
Remind your children that they are a gift to you from God.
As much as you love them, they have a Heavenly Father loves them even more, who has so lovingly created them different from any other creation for His plans and purposes. They are loved Children of God and He fights for them. Romans 8:38-39 tells us that through Christ Jesus, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Your children need to know how important they are to their Father in Heaven.Help your children see their unique gifts and teach them to use these gifts to serve God in your family, in their schools, on their sports teams, etc.
- Make sure your children know who Jesus is.Read the Bible to your children. In the Bible, God reveals Himself to us. As you read scripture help your children to see the Story of Jesus is their story. That like Adam and Eve they sin and mess up every day. They can try their hardest, but they will never be perfect. God knows they can’t be perfect and that’s OK Because Jesus was perfect for them.Help your children to see that all through scripture God continued to love and keep His promises to imperfect people. Jesus came and died for them so that their sins are forgiven. Over the years my husband and I have used the CPH Story Bible with our children. We love this Bible because it has real illustrations, activities/questions and prayers. The events in the Bible are real and we love that our children see the people as real and not cartoons.We found that in our house the best time to read the Bible was at bedtime. It’s a perfect time for us to sit back and refocus our day and reflect upon God’s love and faithfulness.
- Help your children to hide God’s Word in their heart.One of the best gifts my son’s Godmother gave him when he was 4 was a keyring of Bible verses. There was 1 verse for each letter of the Alphabet. So not only was he learning His ABC’s, but he also was learning God’s word.Each week we took one of the verses and made it our family verse. I wrote it on the white board in our kitchen. We’d practice it together at dinner time and talk about what the scripture meant. There were usually stories we shared about regarding the different verses (some were our confirmation verses, wedding verses, etc.).Each week we learned the new verse, but we also reviewed past week verses. I was amazed that before my son was in Kindergarten he had put to memory all 26 verses and could recite them all. As the years have gone on these verses still come enter his mind and remind Him of the truth of God. An easy place to start is John 3:16 or one of your favorite verses.
- Help your children pray.
Have a prayer jar. Take some plastic spoons and write examples of fun children’s dinner prayers on them. Each night have a child take out a spoon and say a prayer. Here are some examples to get you started.Have a thankful jar. Have slips of paper and have the children write something that they are thankful for about their day. Then go around and each person pray and give thanks to God for those gifts. At the end of the month go through the jar and remind each other about how God provided for your family.
Pray before bed together. Take turns talking to God, as children talk to their father.